I was working at a talk radio station in Pittston, PA in the late 80’s / early 90’s. For years this mom and pop station owned by Jim and Dorothy Ward was all local talk. Programs where listeners could call in and sell their junk, ask for relationship advice and bitch about the world around them were staple, up until satellite programming took over. I remember the day when the satellite was turned on replacing local talk with Dr. Joy Browne, Alan Colmes, Tom Snyder and a young fellow named Rush Limbaugh (WARD was one of the first stations to carry Rush).
I spent a little over 10 years working at WARD until Jim’s death and the station went into decline. I then hopped from station to station ultimately deciding to take a different career path by taking a job with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). I still dabbled in radio part time and hosted a weekly pet talk radio program for three years until I officially retired a few years ago. Now I sit on the sidelines and criticize.
Since the introduction of XM and Sirius, I have switched my listening almost exclusively to satellite radio. But when I’m in the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre area I get caught up on the goings-on of the corrupt politicians by turning in to the talkers on WILK. After all, in Palm Beach all the talk is Bernie Madoff, in Luzerne County the courthouse is ready to implode from within and there’s plenty to talk about.
So the other morning the alarm goes off and local talk show host, and former Solid Cactus team member, Kevin Lynn defending his friend, the dis-honorable, criminal judge Mark A. Civarella, Jr. Civarella and co-hort Michael Conahan betrayed the public trust, violated the oath they took when they donned black robes, and ruined the lives of hundred of young men and women by lodging them in detention centers that they were getting kickbacks from when their sentence didn’t warrant incarceration. They traded justice for $2.6 million in cash. They signed a plea deal and are set to go to jail for 7 years.
Now, signing a plea deal saying you’re guilty is pretty much an admission that you did something wrong. But, Lynn goes on the radio every day defending his “friend” Mark. He is perhaps the only person in the world who thinks Civarella is innocent. Can one person be so blind?
Then in the afternoon we get Corbett. Corbett, as his show open declares is “…a news guy…” and the open goes on to self gratify by saying “…I’m good at this…”. Like Prince and Rush, Corbett’s handlers dropped his first name, Steve, and chose a one-name moniker. But the “news guy” who is “good at this” needs to do a little show prep before coming into work every day.
The first lesson you learn when doing talk radio is “know your subject.” If you don’t know the facts surrounding the topic you’re going to discuss and the backstory that goes with it, don’t talk about it or hold the topic until you have the time to research it further.
Proof in point. I’m driving today and turn on Corbett and a caller starts talking about how former Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid and current Commissioner Greg Skrepenak signed off on the lease of the detention center that is front and center in this judicial scandal. Corbett stops the caller and says “that happened when I didn’t live here and I don’t know much about it.”
Excuse me! This is the biggest story of the past 10 years in Luzerne County and you don’t know all the facts surrounding it? Hello! What happened to our “news guy” who’s “good at this”? Hey Corbett, head down to your former employer, The Times Leader, search through their archives and bone up on this stuff if you want to talk about it. Being sick on the day your teacher taught everyone division doesn’t mean you can’t divide!
I could go on and on but it doesn’t matter. Talk radio is like a train wreck. You tune in for a while because your curious, but after 10 minutes of someone defending a criminal or admitting to not knowing everything about the topic that’s being discussed, you tune to something else. Even if it’s someone selling a size 9 dress, worn just once, that they will part with for six-bucks.